BANGALORE: Sachin Tendulkar gave ample display of his class with a marathon unbeaten 191 as India restored balance in the second and final Test against Australia with a solid batting show on Monday.
Tendulkar notched up his 49th Test century and found able support from opener Murali Vijay (139) as the hosts reached a comfortable 435 for five at stumps on day three in reply to Australia’s 478.
The 37-year-old batting maestro, who has been in stunning form in the last three months, played a virtual sheet anchor role to guide India not only to a safe position but from where they can push for a 2-0 series win.
Tendulkar and Vijay, who scored his maiden Test century, were involved in a record 308-run partnership for the third wicket which laid the foundation of India’s spirited reply.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (11) was giving Tendulkar company at stumps on an eventful third day.
Milestone man Tendukar, who on Sunday became the first batsman to score 14,000 Test runs, wrote another record by his name by making a 150-plus score for the record 20th time, surpassing Brian Lara’s 19.
With two full days left, India will now try to gain a substantial first innings lead and try to put pressure on Australians on the M Chinnaswamy track which is expected to provide some help to the slow bowlers.
Tendulkar and Vijay surpassed the 222-run mark, set by Allan Border and Kim Hughes in Chennai in 1979, as Australia went wicket-less in the first two sessions of the day.
Tendulkar, who is now approaching his sixth double ton, has so far struck 20 fours and two sixes in his 319-ball knock.
The Mumbaikar completed his 49th Test century in the morning session by smacking spinner Nathan Haurtiz for two consecutive sixes while Vijay got his maiden hundred with a single off paceman Peter George in the middle session.
Vijay, who replaced an injured Gautam Gambhir in the side, seized the opportunity as he contributed in India’s fightback. His 139 runs came off 310 balls with 14 fours and two sixes.
India lost three wickets in the last session with paceman Mitchell Johnson (3/89) striking twice.
Johnson broke the third wicket stand by getting Vijay caught behind and then trapped debutant Cheteshwar Pujara three balls later.
Suresh Raina was the last man to go but not before adding quick 32 runs. The diminutive left-hander hit pacemen Ben Hilfenhaus and Johnson for five boundaries in no time.
However, he could not build on the good start, falling to Michael Clarke.
Earlier, Tendulkar resumed at 44, and easily negotiated the Australian attack in the first two hours of the day. He reached the three-digit mark in style, cracking a huge six off Nathan Hauritz in 59th over.
Before that he had moved from 93 to 99 with a six. Vijay, who resumed at 42, completed his third Test half-century in the 41st over, taking a single after sending Ben Hilfenhaus to midwicket.
At times Vijay lost his concentration and Tendulkar twice walked up to his partner, advising him to keep his cool.
Ponting shuffled the bowlers quickly but that also did not pay off.
Vijay relied on singles to move forward and gave most of the strike to Tendulkar.
After ensuring that Australia go wicket-less in the opening session, the duo batted through the second session as well, taking their unbroken second-wicket partnership to 276.
Since Tendulkar had already completed his century in the morning, all eyes were on Vijay. The Tamil Nadu batsman slowly moved towards the milestone as he took 11 balls from 99 to three-figure mark.
He pushed one off debutant paceman Peter George towards covers to get to his hundred.
Vijay survived a scare while on 97 as he played one in air off Nathan Hautitz but the ball just fell short of Ricky Ponting at short mid-wicket.
Vijay’s previous best was 87, which he scored against Sri Lanka in December 2009.(PTI)